...depends on what side you are on :) Interesting op-ed from the NYTimes about changes to the Senate filibuster rules in the 1970s which have weakened it's original purpose.
With all of this talk of the momentus healthcare vote happening today (hopefully) it is interesting to reflect on how it is we are in this "do or die" situation when the Dems have a 59 vote (60 for a year) majority in the Senate. Why is it so hard to get the vaunted "up or down" vote the majority is asking for: Today's filibuster. But don't be fooled, today's filibuster is not the filibuster of yesteryear...the filibuster as originally intented.
Prior to a 1970s rule change, new Senate business could not be taken up by the Senate if a filibuster was in play. This had the advantage of real consequences for those threatening to filibuster as no other business was able to be taken up until the filibuster was over. Today that is no longer true. New business can be taken up even in the face of a filibuster. The unintended consequence of the rule change is that mere threat of a filibuster is enough to side-track the legislation. Funny that the reason for the rule change was the gridlock caused by southern Democrats during the civil rights legislation of the '60s.
I am glad that the rule change was not enacted during the '60s or we probably would still not have solid civil rights legislation. The old filibuster forced all sides to deal with a very difficult legislative issue for this county. Today's rule makes it just too easy to table important legislation, as we see with the healthcare debate. No politician wants to deal with healthcare because it is a very hard problem. There are no good answers to the question in a country which believes in the free market but also wants to be socially responsible. With the old rule in play it would have forced all sides to come together and work out a compromise as opposed to letting one side table the debate...which frankly has been going on for decades.